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Air Force’s COVID-19 response - one year on the frontlines with a new enemy

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Chad Lee, 99th Medical Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., dons personal protective equipment during his shift in a telemetry department while providing care to COVID-19 patients at Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 2, 2021. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the whole-of-government COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Garrison Waites/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Chad Lee, 99th Medical Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., dons personal protective equipment during his shift in a telemetry department while providing care to COVID-19 patients at Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 2, 2021. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the whole-of-government COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Garrison Waites/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. --

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic one year ago, U.S. Air Force medics, along with medical personnel across the country, were pushed to the frontlines of this battle with this novel, invisible enemy.

This time last year, while much of the country was making sense of COVID-19 guidelines, scrounging for toilet paper, and bunkering in at home closely watching the case count rise, Air Force medics around the world were buckling down for a long, frontline fight.

Life has changed drastically for everyone in the last year, and countless others have had their lives forever altered upon losing loved ones to the pandemic.

Every frontline worker has endured long days, scary nights, and has made, and continues to make, a multitude of sacrifices to protect their communities. Military medics have also had the responsibility of keeping warfighters safe and in the fight.

The nation’s battle with COVID-19 continues today requiring rapid innovation, whole-of-government response, and new norms to keep the Air Force mission moving forward, all while ensuring the readiness and resilience of Air Force medics amidst extraordinary challenges.

Thanks to the rapid innovation in vaccine development, we have begun a shift to a new stage of the COVID-19 battle. We have moved from buckling down for a fight to rolling up our sleeves - both literally and figuratively.

“The Airmen who make up the Air Force Medical Service have stepped up, innovated, and stepped out in remarkable ways in our COVID-19 fight,” said Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General. “From medical logisticians coordinating vital supplies, medics flying COVID-19 patients back home, to Airmen working alongside sister services and civilian counterparts to support overwhelmed hospitals and vaccine administration - every Airman continues to play a critical role in this fight.”

We still have a long way to go to defeat COVID-19. A look back at a timeline of the response over the last year highlights the many ways Airmen have stepped up and brought their best to the fight. We remain proud of all that they’ve done and continue to do to defeat this threat.